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TIL - my bike prefers Wet Lube vs. Dry Lube even though I live in a desert...

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TIL - my bike prefers Wet Lube vs. Dry Lube even though I live in a desert...

Old 08-06-19, 06:30 PM
  #1  
CarloM
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TIL - my bike prefers Wet Lube vs. Dry Lube even though I live in a desert...

TL;DR - I was Today Years Old when I learned my road bike prefers Finish Line Wet lube to the Dry variant.

My SuperSix Evo Di2 Ultegra had a variable vibrating-type of sound coming out of the rear cassette area when I was pedaling. I wondered if it was because I had recently had my LBS replace the Cannondale 52/36 SI+FSA crankset with an Ultegra FC-R8000 50/34 crankset and maybe it needed more tweaking. The 105 R7000 drivetrain on my FX S6 has been much quieter in comparison.

I am pretty regular about wiping the chain down regularly with a rag after each ride, and approximately once a week cleaning the chain and cassette, rinsing with soap+water, and then again with just water, letting it dry, then re-lubing each chain per ParkTool's recommended video method, with Finish Line Dry lube. I figured, it's Los Angeles, it rains like 20 days a year and I don't ride during those days. I do this with both bikes after about 75-100 miles--where I live is very dusty and the chain gets grimy fairly quickly.

I bring in the SuperSix to my LBS and have them listen to the noise. He asks me what lube I use, I tell him. He wipes the entire chain down with a rag, brings out the Finish Line Wet lube, applies it, spins the pedals, and the sound lessens and then nearly disappears, to the point where it's now as quiet as my other bike.

Who knew. Wet lube > Dry lube, at least for my road bike.
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Old 08-06-19, 07:21 PM
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I use Finish Line Ceramic, have done for so long I finally bought the pint bottle. Winter, summer, same lube.
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Old 08-06-19, 07:29 PM
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I had not heard about ceramic lube yet, time to do a little more research and maybe pick some up for comparison, thanks!
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Old 08-06-19, 07:57 PM
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The dry lube I previously tried - White Lightning, was always pretty noisy. Cleaning your chain with soapy water and rinsing with plain water is probably also contributing to the squeaking. Might be better to clean in mineral spirits. Less worries about water remaining inside the links.

Another dry lube that is pretty quiet and nice & clean is Molten Speed Wax. i’ve Been using it for 2 years and it is pretty nice. You thoroughly clean a new chain of factory lube with 2 washes in mineral spirits, 2 washes in denatured alcohol then you slosh it around in a mini crock pot of liquified paraffin granules fortified with PTFE and molybdenum giving it a grew color. The chain starts out really silent, then gradually gets noisier as the paraffin flakes off. Re-treating the chain is really fast so long as you use a quick link. The thorough cleaning procedure is only done once at the beginning. All subsequent treatments only involve re-waxing.
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Old 08-06-19, 09:03 PM
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Interesting. Iíd seen videos advocating for degreaser, then soapy water, then pure water, then dry and lube (I think park tool even has that in their instructions with the chain cleaner).

I just rode to dinner. Not only has the chain become even quieter since first application about four hours ago, it feels smoother and easier to pedal. Not sure if this is real or imagined, maybe now that itís near silent Iím just imagining itís easier/smoother.

I look forward to experimenting later with ceramic, but four hours into it and Iím totally a wet lube convert.

My LBS said it will attract dirt and grime more than the dry but since Iím in the habit of cleaning and reapplying regularly that wonít bother me.
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Old 08-06-19, 11:01 PM
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I like the hot and tingly stuff.
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Old 08-07-19, 04:20 AM
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I tried dry lube a while back and it seemed to barely last more than 2-3 rides, less than 200 miles. Usually get double that with wet lube and I am also a Finish Line ceramic lube convert. Usually on dry roads here (Maryland) but occasional wet road rides or rides in rain.

On cleaning the chain, the only time I add the extra step you do of the soapy water then clean water rinse is when I first clean the chain, then clean the entire bike. I use a chain cleaning tool, after running chain through it with Simple Green I fill the chain cleaner tool with water and run it through again if I'm not washing the bike. Seems to be good enough to get the degreaser out.

I have found that if I lube the chain and then before my next ride I wipe the outside down with a rag, then the oil has soaked into the important parts and the grit pickup doesn't seem much worse than it was with the dry lube. I also do the wipe down after every ride to remove as much of what it did pick up as possible.

I honestly can't say that any of this makes the chain or cassette/cogs last any longer than they did when I just did almost no chain maintenance! Psychologically, I have convinced myself that those GCN numbers on saved watts with a clean drive chain are accurate, so I feel faster...
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Old 08-07-19, 07:32 AM
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A chain can't really be cleaned well, while it's on the bike. I used wet lubes in dusty conditions for many years, but I'd take the chain off every week and put on a clean one of the three that I used in a rotation. Using a wipperman connex link made this easy.

Last year I started using a home made dry wax lube that works great, but expecting it to last even 200 miles is unrealistic. The big advantage is does not collect dirt, the chain needs far fewer cleanings. Reapplying the lube only takes a couple of minutes. I apply a drop or two to each roller. Applying lube in a stream will use a huge amount and make a mess.

6-7 fluid ounces of naptha (white gas) to 1 ounce by weight of paraffin, plus .5 ounce of high quality oil.
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Old 08-07-19, 08:54 AM
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Last year, I put marine transmission lower unit lube with added "tackifiers" and a consistency like loose snot on the chain of a wet weather bike and it was virtually silent for months until I sold the bike. Will it last any longer than a chain repeatedly lubed with PTFE in a volatile base and which grumbles a little? I don't know. However, 1) I know which one I want on my "nice" bike, 2) I hate cleaning chains, 3)steel recycles pretty well, and 4) I can afford an extra chain a year if that's what it takes.
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Old 08-07-19, 09:42 AM
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Originally Posted by CarloM
Interesting. I’d seen videos advocating for degreaser, then soapy water, then pure water, then dry and lube (I think park tool even has that in their instructions with the chain cleaner).

I just rode to dinner. Not only has the chain become even quieter since first application about four hours ago, it feels smoother and easier to pedal. Not sure if this is real or imagined, maybe now that it’s near silent I’m just imagining it’s easier/smoother.

I look forward to experimenting later with ceramic, but four hours into it and I’m totally a wet lube convert.

My LBS said it will attract dirt and grime more than the dry but since I’m in the habit of cleaning and reapplying regularly that won’t bother me.
Even if Park Tools says it’s OK to use water then there is the issue of drying the chain internally of that last little bit of water. I tried the low temperature oven cookie sheet technique and actually had flash rusting taking place. Probably using a compressed air gun to blow or the gap in each link then laying it the sun, flipping it and repeating the same on the other side might get you closer to a dried chain. Now you’ve added more work to your regimen. This is why I mentioned the Molten Speed Wax system. It really is quite a nice system and I suspect better on average than drip-on dry lubes. Dry lubes are going to collect less dirt in dry conditions.

It is nice to have a quiet chain, this is why folks are saying to re-apply (wax or dry lube) every 200 miles or so and to consider running with a 2 or 3 chain system utilizing quick links.

With all this said, I tend to agree with others that chain life tends to be the same roughly no matter which method you are using. But for me the drivetrain cleanliness afforded by the Wax pushes this method to the top.
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Old 08-07-19, 09:55 AM
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Just to be clear, my routine every 100 miles or so was:
  • Drop rear wheel, clean that separately with brush dipped in degreaser, only apply to cassette, avoiding hub and bearings, rinse thoroughly with water several times, air dry separately.
  • Clean chain with PT chain cleaner and degreaser, 30 pedals (or more), then use brush with degreaser to clean front chainrings and derailleur cogs.
  • Refill chain cleaner with mild soapy water (clean out tool, including brushes and sponge), 30 pedals (or more). Use rag dipped in water to clean front chainrings and derailleur cogs.
  • Clean out tool again, refill with clean water, 30 pedals. Empty, clean, refill with more clean water, 30 pedals. Water's usually clean by this point. Light water bottle spray on chainrings and rear derailleur. Wipe all with clean cloth.
  • Let all air dry.
  • Reapply lube (used to be dry, now will be wet--or ceramic) one link at a time, starting at master link, right on the pivot points.
  • Wipe chain dry of excess lube
  • Reattach rear wheel; let sit overnight
I hadn't had 50 miles before that noise started. It might also have to do with the new HG901-11 chain I had the LBS put on recently, vs. the 701 it came with (and my Trek FXS6 has 601 and has stayed relatively quiet with dry lube).

Since the 901-11 has a Shimano 901 has a quick link, I may think about running the 2-3 chain strategy. I did see that one video from Australia or NZ where someone was using an ultrasonic cleaner on his chains.
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Old 08-07-19, 09:56 AM
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Originally Posted by CarloM
Interesting. Iíd seen videos advocating for degreaser, then soapy water, then pure water, then dry and lube (I think park tool even has that in their instructions with the chain cleaner).

I just rode to dinner. Not only has the chain become even quieter since first application about four hours ago, it feels smoother and easier to pedal. Not sure if this is real or imagined, maybe now that itís near silent Iím just imagining itís easier/smoother.

I look forward to experimenting later with ceramic, but four hours into it and Iím totally a wet lube convert.

My LBS said it will attract dirt and grime more than the dry but since Iím in the habit of cleaning and reapplying regularly that wonít bother me.
The whole deal with chain lube is what happens with the pins in the rollers. That's where wear occurs. Thus, the first requirement of long chain life is to never disturb the lube inside the rollers. I've been experimenting with different methods of chain maintenance for over 20 years, 10 of those years with the drive chain on a tandem ridden all winter in rain and general road filth.

My conclusions: Washing a chain on the bike with ordinary soap and sponge or Scothbrite pad won't bother the lube in the rollers. That won't make a chain noisy. Cleaning a chain in mineral spirits or similar strong solvent, either with a roller box or off the bike, is a bad idea. That removes the lube in the rollers and it's hard to get it back in. Solvent gets trapped in the rollers and dilutes the lube, etc. Looks nice, but reduces chain life. Some folks even advise washing a brand new chain that's been factory lubed. Never do that. Best practice is to dry-wipe the chain when it looks dirty until it looks pretty decent, then reapply wet lube. After the wet lube, put your shrink tube attachment on your heat gun and pedal the chain through it until it's quite warm, then wipe it as dry as possible. If you don't have a heat gun, a hair dryer will do. If you don't have a hair dryer, that's OK too, but warming the lube in works best. Same after washing the bike. Actively dry the chain with heat before and after re-lubing. I get 2000 miles on a tandem chain with this method, changing it at about a 1/32"/foot "stretch."

When I used to do the roller box/solvent method, I was going through chainrings and cassettes because my chain stretched so quickly. No more.
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Old 08-07-19, 09:58 AM
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Originally Posted by Seattle Forrest
I like the hot and tingly stuff.
Oh yeah, every morning.
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Old 08-07-19, 10:12 AM
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Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy
The whole deal with chain lube is what happens with the pins in the rollers. That's where wear occurs. Thus, the first requirement of long chain life is to never disturb the lube inside the rollers. I've been experimenting with different methods of chain maintenance for over 20 years, 10 of those years with the drive chain on a tandem ridden all winter in rain and general road filth.

My conclusions: Washing a chain on the bike with ordinary soap and sponge or Scothbrite pad won't bother the lube in the rollers. That won't make a chain noisy. Cleaning a chain in mineral spirits or similar strong solvent, either with a roller box or off the bike, is a bad idea. That removes the lube in the rollers and it's hard to get it back in. Solvent gets trapped in the rollers and dilutes the lube, etc. Looks nice, but reduces chain life. Some folks even advise washing a brand new chain that's been factory lubed. Never do that. Best practice is to dry-wipe the chain when it looks dirty until it looks pretty decent, then reapply wet lube. After the wet lube, put your shrink tube attachment on your heat gun and pedal the chain through it until it's quite warm, then wipe it as dry as possible. If you don't have a heat gun, a hair dryer will do. If you don't have a hair dryer, that's OK too, but warming the lube in works best. Same after washing the bike. Actively dry the chain with heat before and after re-lubing. I get 2000 miles on a tandem chain with this method, changing it at about a 1/32"/foot "stretch."

When I used to do the roller box/solvent method, I was going through chainrings and cassettes because my chain stretched so quickly. No more.
+1

I used to be a freak about keeping the chain clean, and regularly cleaned the drivetrain with strong solvents. Once I stopped doing that, chain life dramatically improved.

BTW. Rock and Roll Red is the only lube I'll use for dry/desert road riding.

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Old 08-07-19, 12:28 PM
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Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy
The whole deal with chain lube is what happens with the pins in the rollers. That's where wear occurs. Thus, the first requirement of long chain life is to never disturb the lube inside the rollers. I've been experimenting with different methods of chain maintenance for over 20 years, 10 of those years with the drive chain on a tandem ridden all winter in rain and general road filth.

My conclusions: Washing a chain on the bike with ordinary soap and sponge or Scothbrite pad won't bother the lube in the rollers. That won't make a chain noisy. Cleaning a chain in mineral spirits or similar strong solvent, either with a roller box or off the bike, is a bad idea. That removes the lube in the rollers and it's hard to get it back in. Solvent gets trapped in the rollers and dilutes the lube, etc. Looks nice, but reduces chain life. Some folks even advise washing a brand new chain that's been factory lubed. Never do that. Best practice is to dry-wipe the chain when it looks dirty until it looks pretty decent, then reapply wet lube. After the wet lube, put your shrink tube attachment on your heat gun and pedal the chain through it until it's quite warm, then wipe it as dry as possible. If you don't have a heat gun, a hair dryer will do. If you don't have a hair dryer, that's OK too, but warming the lube in works best. Same after washing the bike. Actively dry the chain with heat before and after re-lubing. I get 2000 miles on a tandem chain with this method, changing it at about a 1/32"/foot "stretch."

When I used to do the roller box/solvent method, I was going through chainrings and cassettes because my chain stretched so quickly. No more.
+1

Just like noodle soup, all I use is Rock n Roll...though I use the Gold in summer and Blue in winter (rains a lot here). I have gotten upwards of 5000km on a chain, riding in some absolutely crappy conditions, with a lot of gravel. I check and wipe the chain regularly, clean and lube (by applying that magical stuff) every 3-4 days.
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Old 08-07-19, 12:39 PM
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Thx - checking out rock n roll lubes now. Anyone use their Gold?

While added chain life is always nice, I'm primarily after running a smooth, quiet transmission and not losing too much effort due to grit and grime. Not having grit act as sandpaper for all the components, and any extended life benefits due to that, are obviously welcome.
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Old 08-07-19, 01:12 PM
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Originally Posted by CarloM
Thx - checking out rock n roll lubes now. Anyone use their Gold?

While added chain life is always nice, I'm primarily after running a smooth, quiet transmission and not losing too much effort due to grit and grime. Not having grit act as sandpaper for all the components, and any extended life benefits due to that, are obviously welcome.
The lack of grit and grime accumulation, as a result of using RnR red lube, also results in long chain life. I lube the chain frequently(300 miles), and wipe down the drive with a rag/cleanstreak after each application.
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Old 08-07-19, 02:33 PM
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Originally Posted by MoAlpha
2) I hate cleaning chains, 3)steel recycles pretty well, and 4) I can afford an extra chain a year if that's what it takes.
I also hate cleaning chains, but haven't found the need to replace all that often. I tend to just wash my bike off with a garden hose and mild soap and water (not my steel bikes, though), spray the chain down with citrus degreaser with the rear wheel removed (I have a dummy hub), and use a quick assortment of brushes to get out the the grit. Then I wipe down with a rag and let it air dry. I don't do this often enough, and often ride a dirty bike covered in crushed limestone dust (I live near a crushed limestone path). Then I apply the Finish Line dry lube generously. I do this as fast as possible, and only remove my chain and cassette a couple of times a year.

Back in our bike shop 25 years ago, we would use the Park Tool chain cleaners with citrus degreaser, and then blow off the residue using a compressed air gun hooked up to our shop compressor. Nothing has ever worked as well for "chain on bike cleaning" than the compressed air gun, and I have wanted one at home ever since. But always dry lube. The shop owner believed that it picked up fewer particles.
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Old 08-07-19, 02:56 PM
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Why waste time cleaning your chain when you could be riding the freaking thing? Ride it more, baby it less and youíll be a happier cyclist.
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Old 08-07-19, 03:34 PM
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Because it takes me 20 minutes a week to do and makes the other 10+ hours I ride it feel so much smoother/better?
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Old 08-07-19, 05:29 PM
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I've used paraffin and occasionally Boeshield T9 on my road bikes. Paraffin is the cleanest but the drivetrain gets a little noisy after only two or three rides. Not squeaky, but clinky. Same with Boeshield T9. Very thin, watery carrier and the thin layer of paraffin left behind offers reasonable lubrication and protection, but the drivetrain gets clinky after only a couple of rides.

With paraffin in crock pots, I usually have two identical chains for each road bike, and rotate them every 2-4 weeks. Since my bikes are in the living room or spare bedroom, and I have cats, it's cleaner. Any smudges from the chain are like pencil graphite -- it wipes off with just a dry napkin.

Boeshield is somewhere between a dry and wet lube. It'll leave chain tattoos like a wet lube, but cleans off more easily than with wet lubes. I usually apply it once a week or every 2-3 rides.

On my hybrids I've used Park CL-1 wet lube, which isn't highly rated for lubricity in tests. But it's tenacious stuff even through rain and puddles. After a couple of days following application it semi-dries and leaves a tacky film, sorta like a Post-It Note. Some motorcycle chain lubes have the same property. I suspect this is what makes it last longer through rain and keeps the drivetrain quiet longer. I usually apply it only once or twice a year. It leaves nasty, sticky chain tattoos that require Dawn dish detergent, Lava soap or garage type hand cleaner to remove.

It's all a compromise.
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Old 08-07-19, 05:37 PM
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Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy
The whole deal with chain lube is what happens with the pins in the rollers. That's where wear occurs. Thus, the first requirement of long chain life is to never disturb the lube inside the rollers. I've been experimenting with different methods of chain maintenance for over 20 years, 10 of those years with the drive chain on a tandem ridden all winter in rain and general road filth.

My conclusions: Washing a chain on the bike with ordinary soap and sponge or Scothbrite pad won't bother the lube in the rollers. That won't make a chain noisy. Cleaning a chain in mineral spirits or similar strong solvent, either with a roller box or off the bike, is a bad idea. That removes the lube in the rollers and it's hard to get it back in. Solvent gets trapped in the rollers and dilutes the lube, etc. Looks nice, but reduces chain life. Some folks even advise washing a brand new chain that's been factory lubed. Never do that. Best practice is to dry-wipe the chain when it looks dirty until it looks pretty decent, then reapply wet lube. After the wet lube, put your shrink tube attachment on your heat gun and pedal the chain through it until it's quite warm, then wipe it as dry as possible. If you don't have a heat gun, a hair dryer will do. If you don't have a hair dryer, that's OK too, but warming the lube in works best. Same after washing the bike. Actively dry the chain with heat before and after re-lubing. I get 2000 miles on a tandem chain with this method, changing it at about a 1/32"/foot "stretch."

When I used to do the roller box/solvent method, I was going through chainrings and cassettes because my chain stretched so quickly. No more.
This simply isn't true. The tolerances in a chain are huge compared to the ability of any lube to wick into the void volume, speaking as a chemical engineer. Best practice in terms of longevity to flush all grit and lube carrying wear particles out of the chain and apply your lube of choice for your conditions.
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Old 08-07-19, 06:34 PM
  #23  
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Originally Posted by redlude97
This simply isn't true. The tolerances in a chain are huge compared to the ability of any lube to wick into the void volume, speaking as a chemical engineer. Best practice in terms of longevity to flush all grit and lube carrying wear particles out of the chain and apply your lube of choice for your conditions.
There's the above testimony that your practice, while seemingly sensible, results in increased chain wear. I don't know of an RCT. I do know fellow riders who are amazed that I get over 500 miles out of a chain while riding in winter in the PNW. I get 2000 on a tandem. You might try the 2 different techniques over the next couple winters of rain riding. Hypothesis - experiment - theory. Let the chain be unbroken.
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Old 08-07-19, 06:47 PM
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Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy
There's the above testimony that your practice, while seemingly sensible, results in increased chain wear. I don't know of an RCT. I do know fellow riders who are amazed that I get over 500 miles out of a chain while riding in winter in the PNW. I get 2000 on a tandem. You might try the 2 different techniques over the next couple winters of rain riding. Hypothesis - experiment - theory. Let the chain be unbroken.
I use Chain-L in the winter and don't even need to lube rain or shine for 1000 miles. I completely strip between lubings and have no problem getting the super viscous lube without any solvents to wick into the chain. I have no problem getting paraffin wax or squirt during the dry months to fill the rollers either. 500 miles life from a chain? What are these people using?
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Old 08-07-19, 10:56 PM
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Originally Posted by CarloM
Thx - checking out rock n roll lubes now. Anyone use their Gold?
Yes. As I stated above your post, I use it in the summer (liberally speaking). Start in March or April after the winter weather (mostly cold rain here) stop and push it as far into the fall as I can. Then I with to Blue. Gold is simple to use, apply it to the chain will spinning the crank backwards, then wipe, wipe, wipe, wipe....walk away go do something else for two minutes, and then wipe it some more. The crud gets off the chain, and it shifts smoothly and is quiet...I use chain noise as the indicator when I need to apply, usually once per week, sometimes more often if it has been raining, or if I hit some gravel (sometimes I do, what can I say?).
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